Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Those who can, Ride. Those who can't.... Target??

Thank you to everyone for their comments.  This has been a whirlwind of a few days (sick, crazy work, horsey decisions..trying to sell the condo..) but I think I'm getting a handle on all of it.  :)

I'm 99% certain that P is going to Summer Camp.  I still have a few questions to ask and logistics to figure out, but I'm feeling like we haven't made any progress recently (maybe even back tracked a tad) and nothing we've tried thus far has seemed to be the change that P is trying to ask for.  SO, unless something huge and big and scary happens, (or is revealed), Summer Camp is our plan.

I've fished around in my (little) horsey circle, and everyone who's worked with Dr. Finn has either found some benefit, learned a lot, or had a horse changing experience.  Frankly, I'm up for any of those options, so we're good to go on that front.  Also, what's to lose? (aside from more money..)

Which brings me to my second rambling thought process:  $$$$

In theory, Summer Camp was supposed to be cheaper than our current situation.  Which didn't really make sense to me, but I figured I'd roll with it.  Of course, upon further inspection, it is certainly not.  Right now we pay a well deserved $675 for our board.  Full care.  Full, impeccable, wonderfully attentive care.  Board at Summer Camp is $500 a month.  I still can't quite figure out what the care level is.  I guess it varies depending on whether or not the mare is in a stall or out running with the herd... Of course, the "training" component is $800 a month.

OH HEY EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS! you tried to sneak up on me!

Realistically, for P getting attention/groundwork/eventually under saddle work, I know this is a bargain.  After her immersion with the herd, she'll start "school" 6 days a week... So realistically, that takes the cost per session down to a totally reasonable $33.  That I can swallow, but still.. the grand total of $1300 is definitely more than the initial $500 number..

Oh, and then there's the body/vet work.  Anything that P needs from Dr Finn in terms of treatments will be on top of that.  All I can say is that it's a DAMN good thing we got an offer on the condo yesterday.. because it looks like I know exactly where my old mortgage payment will be going...

The BO knows that we're figuring out logistics and that we'll likely be leaving.  Of course, there are still decisions to make there as well.  She made it pretty clear that she's holding me to 30 days notice, which pays our board for the month... which is fair. And she also mentioned that if I want my spot held at the barn, it'll be $150 a month.  I love my barn, I really do.  And I love that none of the boarders are crazy, and no one steals things, and that the BO pours her time and energy into keeping everything top notch.  I don't know that I'll be able to find another barn like that so easily, but I also don't know that I can just watch $150 roll off the bankroll each month for "nothing."  I know that my peace of mind isn't worth "nothing,"  but with the bigger bills from summer camp, I can't be certain if it's a good use of my resources.

Also, I guess there's always the possibility that after Summer Camp, we may need something that my current barn doesn't offer.. more turnout, more trails? but who knows.  What would you do? pay the reservation fee? let it go and risk it?

I'm a little nervous because right now we have exactly ONE spot open.  But, the BO is bringing in a new horse probably in the next week, one of the riders who leases a horse there is bringing a new horse to try, and one of the three year olds who left to be started is due back in two months.  Of course, the mare and the baby might leave soon for bigger pastures, and one horse is up for sale... but............ Arrrrggghhh 

So, in an attempt to ignore all that crap, I opted to play with the mare.  We ran around the ring for a bit, ate some grass, then I started some of our homework from Dr. Finn.  Ladies and Gentlemen... Pia is learning how to target.  

Well, kinda.  I mean, at least it's giving us something to do while we aren't riding and before we go away to camp...

Shaping behavior is right up my alley, since I spent WAAAAAY too long in a lab teaching pigeons how to "use tools" and replicating studies with chimps.  Somehow, I totally allow myself to check out of that mode with horses (sometimes) and I end up personifying them and not holding myself to the same strict standards of "science."

Long story short, I had a bag of carrots.  And Pia got one every time to touched the end of the whip with her nose.  We started with 2 minutes in the arena while she was still running loose and she got the concept right quick.  I gave her a break while we hand grazed, but then I did a few more minutes back in the barn and got some "video" on my phone.  Bear in mind this is the first day, so I'm not being too picky about how she touches the whip, or where... rather trying to associate her seeking it out with a reward, and slowly asking her to move around a little more in order to reach the end of the whip.

Of course, the cross ties made life a little difficult since P just wanted to keep moving forward, pull them tight and then she'd get annoyed that she didn't have any leeway to move her head and touch the whip.... brilliant.

Anyway, here's our cute videos.  So far I think the only lesson she's learned is "PUT EVERYTHING IN YOUR MOUTH,"  but a few more sessions and she'll figure out what the specific goal is....

She's damn adorable.  I managed to sneak in one more handful of carrot bits.. so we worked for about one more minute and called it a day.  This mare learns fast.  What a gem.


  1. In all seriousness let me know if you want to come see the Giant Warmblood barn. It's not as fancy as your barn, but the horses come first (I feel like i'm THEIR slave) and they are well taken care of. It's a thought, and even though they're full I think I could get you in.

  2. I wouldn't waste your money on the reservation fee. Something will come up, and as you said you may find that you have different needs after Summer Camp.

    Are you doing the clicking thing too or just giving her treats (says me, with my zero knowledge of clicker training)? I am afraid to do this with Tucker. He is already completely obsessed with treats so we try to limit his intake, and I'm not sure if he'd catch on to the targeting thing. I'd have to use something other than a whip, too, since he is deathly afraid of them. Perhaps I can teach him to target the dog. He likes the dog.

  3. Wow! That is a pretty penny. I would be a little worried about the additional care from the Doctor on top of the rehap training. There will be no way for you to know if the care is necessary or just fringe income for the caregiver. Try to negotiate for one flat fee.

  4. I just read your last two posts... wow. First of all I want to say I think it's AWESOME that you are willing to do whatever it takes for Pia. Seriously, if there were more horse owners out there that were willing to go to half of the effort you have put into trying to figure out and fix her problems the horse world would be such a better place. That sounds cliche, but I totally mean it.

    Summer camp sounds great, but wow it sure is expensive! Does your current barn have a long waiting list? I think I wouldn't bother paying the stall reserve fee unless it was the one and only place you can see yourself board and there is a huge waiting list, but that's just my 2 cents.

  5. You should try clicker training! I think you would enjoy the science behind it. It also makes it easier and more precise to teach targeting. Even if you don't decide to use a clicker (or a marker word) it's a lot easier to teach targeting with her inside a stall. Then you wouldn't have to keep moving her back. :)

    It's also the easiest way to teach manners around treats. This is for the people who commented too if they are interested. To help with horses who are too persistent and pushy about treats you can put them in a stall or behind a fence, then stand just within their reach and wait. Let them sniff your pockets and mug for treats, if they get too rough or try to bite just step out of their reach. When they eventually look away click (or say yes, good girl, whatever) and give a treat. This will teach them that they only get treats when they are not mugging you for them. Also make sure to always feed the treat with your arm outstretched, not close to your body. You can also feed the treat at their chest so that they have to step back to eat the treat. Also for those who can't use a whip I use a tennis ball on a dowel rod. You just cut a slit in the tennis ball and put it on the end of a wooden dowel rod. Clicker training is a lot of fun. If you have any questions just send me an email or leave a comment on one of my blogs. :D

    I think the camp sounds like a good place, but wow so expensive. Things are a lot more expensive where you live though. I also probably wouldn't worry about the reservation fee at your current barn. Good luck!

  6. She's so sweet:) And yeah, wow, sticker shock-Pia is so lucky to have you. Of course you know Dr. Finn best and how to negotiate, but I agree with Val, it would be hard for me to pay 1300 PLUS additional therepies without knowing approximately what and how much. I realize the vet may not have ALL the answers yet, but a ballpark is helpful.
    I wouldn't pay the hold fee for your barn (as much as I love that indoor arena, swooooon). If you were going to be gone for only a couple months, maybe, but I have a feeling you will have plenty of time to get back in there if you really want to, or find something else.


Related Posts with Thumbnails